English majors, year II

Lecture 8. Verbs II Multi-word lexical verbs 1 Multi-word verbs: structure and meaning
Many multi-word units function like a single verb. These combinations usually have idiomatic meanings. That is, their meaning cannot be predicted from the meaning of each individual word. These multi-word verbs fall into four classes: • phrasal verbs • prepositional verbs • phrasal-prepositional verbs • other multi-word verb constructions. Phrasal verbs consist of a verb followed by an adverbial particle (e.g. carry out, find out, or pick up). When these adverbial particles are used independently, they have literal meanings signifying location or direction (e.g. out, in, up, down, on, off). However, in phrasal verbs they are commonly used with less literal meanings. For example, the meaning of find out does not include the 'place' meaning of out. Prepositional verbs consist of a verb followed by a preposition, such as look at, talk about, listen to. Phrasal-prepositional verbs contain both an adverbial particle and a preposition, as in get away with, look forward to, put up with, make off with, etc. Because they are idiomatic in meaning, it is sometimes possible to replace multiword verbs by single-word verbs with a similar meaning: multi-word verb single-word verb carry out undertake look at observe put up with tolerate find out discover talk about discuss make off with steal In contrast to multi-word verbs, free combinations consist of a single-word lexical verb followed by an adverb or preposition with a separate meaning (e.g. come down, go back, climb up, climb down). In practice, it is hard to make an absolute distinction between free combinations and multi-word verbs. It is better to think of a continuum where some uses of verbs are relatively free and others relatively idiomatic. 1.1 Characteristics of phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs The meanings and structures of phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs, and free combinations differ in many ways. However, just three criteria are usually sufficient for distinguishing among the types of multi-word combinations. The criteria are: • whether or not there is an idiomatic meaning • whether or not particle movement is possible • how the wh-question is formed. Anca Cehan 1

For example. the adverbial particle is almost always after the object: Yeah I'll pick [them] up. both the verb and the adverb have separate meanings in free combinations like come back. Come back. break down. In contrast. and grow up all have idiomatic meanings beyond the separate meanings of the two parts (e. Anca Cehan 2 . Intransitive phrasal verbs usually have an idiomatic meaning. So I got [it] back. He was afraid to look back. Transitive phrasal verbs allow particle movement. When there is no following noun phrase (e. grow up means to act/become more mature. come down. and you wish to distinguish between an intransitive phrasal verb and a free combination. or I'll fire. Availability depends on their being close to the root. He picked [the phone] up.The nature of a multi-word expression is determined by whether or not there is a following noun phrase. or a free combination of verb + adverb. go back. shut up. He came back and picked up [the note]. If there is a following noun phrase (e. go in. The first important test is particle movement: that is. It must be either an intransitive phrasal verb. In the following examples the object noun phrase is shown in brackets. tests using structure are more important than those involving idiomatic meaning.g. shut up or go away). A Idiomatic meaning Checking for an idiomatic meaning is especially useful when there is no following noun phrase. I've got to get [this one] back for her mom. there are three possible interpretations. <compare: *Well those kids are waiting their bus for. the intransitive phrasal verbs come on. or a free combination of verb + adverbial prepositional phrase. the particle (actually.g. a transitive prepositional verb. while the words in free combinations retain their own meanings. a preposition) always comes before the noun phrase that is the object: Well those kids are waiting for their bus. whether the adverbial particle can be placed both before and after the object noun phrase.> It was hard to look at him.g. I went to Eddie's girl's house to get back [my wool plaid shirt]. find out the meaning). get out. Instead. not literally to grow in an upward direction). B Particle movement When multi-word combinations have a following noun phrase. Either it is a transitive phrasal verb. there are only two possible interpretations. When the object of a transitive phrasal verb is a pronoun. look back. • Intransitive phrasal verbs: Shut up you fool! Come on! Tell us then! • Intransitive free combinations: If this was new. Particle movement is not possible with prepositional verbs. get up. I wouldn't let people go in.

> In contrast.> When are you leaving? <compare the statement: I am leaving at that time. wh-questions are typically formed with what or who. Further. some combinations can be interpreted as belonging to more than one category. For example. because the combined meaning of the parts is idiomatic. These questions indicate that the prepositional phrase is an adverbial that follows the verb: • place: Where are you walking? <compare the statement: I am walking to that place.C Wh-question formation Wh-question formation is a second important structural test for deciding the type of multi-word verb. This combination might be analyzed as a free combination because come and back both contribute independently to the meaning. 3 Everton came back from a goal down to beat Blackburn 2-1. These questions indicate that the noun phrase that follows the preposition functions as the object of the prepositional verb: What are you talking about? What are you laughing at? <compare the statement: I am talking about / laughing at something. or a free combination of verb + adverbial prepositional phrase (2): 1 He just doesn't fit in. This test is especially useful for distinguishing between a t ra n s it ive p re p o sit io n a l ve rb + o b je ct a n d a f ree co mb in a t ion of verb + adverbial prepositional phrase. 2 The mushroom was too big to fit [in a special dryer at Purdue University's plant and fungi collection]. In sentences with a prepositional verb. But the combination could also be regarded as an intransitive phrasal verb. wh -questions for free combinations can be formed using the adverbial wh -words where and when.2 Multi-word combinations in multiple categories Sometimes multi-word combinations fit into more than one category. depending on the context. the combination fit in can be an intransitive phrasal verb (1).> Who are you working with? Who was he talking to? <compare the statement: I am working with / talking to somebody. some combinations have the characteristics of more than one category even in a single occurrence. For example. 4 When Jim went to the police station.> Where will we meet? <compare the statement: We will meet at that place. Many combinations can function as more than one type.> • time: When are you playing? <compare the statement: I am playing at that time.> Comparing these features does not always result in clear-cut distinctions between all multi-word verb combinations. officers told him to come back another day. 1. Sentence 4 might seem more clearly a free combination because the adverb back Anca Cehan 3 . consider come back. In addition. with the meaning to 'recover' or 'resume an activity'.

With transitive phrasal verbs the particle can be placed after the direct object. while in the other registers phrasal verbs are more common than phrasal-prepositional verbs. In sum. while 3 has a more clearly idiomatic meaning ('recover'). it is not surprising that these intransitive phrasal verbs are also most common in those registers: Shut up! Just forget it.has a literal directional meaning. the distinction is not always clear-cut. it. such as turn out. too. 4 also has a meaning that can be represented by a single verb: return. Go off to bed now.1 Most common phrasal verbs A Intransitive phrasal verbs Conversation and fiction use phrasal verbs much more frequently than news and academic prose do. One reason for this difference is that most phrasal verbs are colloquial in tone. a few phrasal verbs are copular. Both phrasal verbs and phrasal-prepositional verbs are extremely rare in academic prose. but extremely rare in news and academic prose. This is the normal word order when the object is a pronoun: Terri turned it on. the most common intransitive phrasal verbs are activity verbs that are used as directives. is idiomatic. In fact. In addition. • Transitive phrasal verbs: Did you point out the faults on it then? I ventured to bring up the subject of the future. • Intransitive phrasal verbs: Come on. while prepositional verbs cover a wide range of semantic categories. I just thought I would point it out to you. 2. They are extremely common in conversation and fiction. Since imperative clauses are most common in conversation and fiction. 1. and wind up. end up. 2 Phrasal verbs There are two major subcategories of phrasal verbs: intransitive and transitive.3 Frequency of multi-word verb types Prepositional verbs are far more common than phrasal verbs or phrasalprepositional verbs. The warden said that she would turn the heating on. In this sense. Phrasal and phrasal-prepositional verbs are most commonly used for physical activities. Stand up straight! People are looking! Anca Cehan 4 . They often occur as imperatives. tell me about Nick. as for many grammatical categories. I want to find out the relative sizes of the most common dinosaurs. This difference is especially noteworthy for intransitive phrasal verbs. Hold on! What are you doing there? I just broke down in tears when I saw the letter. However.

set up. make up. we’d better go. with a meaning similar to 'happen': Think what's going on. in 1933. meaning 'to start' or 'become activated': The heating didn't come on this morning. I sat down behind my desk. rub it in. let Andy do it. He sat up and stared at Frederica. As time went on. verbs such as put on. The intransitive phrasal verb go on is also extremely common. Anca Cehan 5 . Belgium. and find out are relatively common in both conversation and the written expository registers: Some people they read the top bit and read the bottom bit.In declarative clauses.or to-infinitive clause as direct object): Labour would go on getting the public's support by constructing strong unity of purpose. However. • as the main verb in a clause. For example. who took up the post at Royal Waterloo. Go on! • to express continuation: I just ignored her and went on. unlike come on. The intransitive combination come on in conversation is the most common phrasal verb in any register. This verb has three major functions: • as an exclamation in a call for action: Come on. a few transitive phrasal verbs are actually more common in expository writing than in conversation. he came over to the study. Because you might find out it works. and sort of make up the bit in the middle. the common intransitive phrasal verbs usually have human subjects (underlined below): No. • to mark an unspecified activity. take up. and point out: It is common practice to carry out a series of design point calculations. These include carry out. Go on is similar to come on in having a number of different functions. The rule also affected Henry Cotton. It's dreadful. take on. B Transitive phrasal verbs Transitive phrasal verbs are more evenly spread across written and spoken registers. In fact. • to mark continuation of some general action (as a transitive verb with a complement ing. • as a pre-departure summons to move: Come on. Haven't you found that out yet? For the modern mathematician these numbers would make up an ordered pair. Liebig developed his thesis. go on is used often in both written and spoken registers: • as an exclamatory call for action (like come on above): It's alright. I didn't have time to talk. Bjornsson went on to study the newspapers of 11 countries.

• ask for with Pattern 1: But I've asked for much too much already. He said farewell to us [on this very spot]. know (NP) about: • apply to with Pattern 1: The regulations also apply to new buildings. some prepositional verbs occur with both Patterns 1 and 2. it can be considered a single-word lexical verb that is followed by a prepositional phrase.When the Spanish arm of the operation needed assistance he was asked to take on a supervisory role. <compare the active voice: Someone based the initiative on a Scottish scheme. the combination turn out is unusual in that it is a common phrasal verb that can function as a copular verb.> Most prepositional verbs occur with only one pattern. The prepositional phrase functions as an adverbial. 3 Prepositional verbs All prepositional verbs take a prepositional object. the noun phrase that occurs after the preposition. The noun phrase that corresponds to the direct object is placed in subject position: The media is falsely accused of a lot of things. The two-object prepositional verb (Pattern 2) is also common with passive verbs.e. ask (NP) for. This analysis is supported by the fact that it is usually possible to insert another adverbial between the verb and the prepositional phrase in Pattern 1.> The initiative is based on a Scottish scheme. The structure of a prepositional verb can be analyzed in two ways. and with a direct object and a prepositional object (Pattern 2): • Pattern 1: NP + V + prep + NP (prepositional objects are underlined) It just looks like the barrel. It reminds me of some parts of Boston. On the one hand. These include apply (NP) to. connect (NP) with. • Pattern 2: NP + V + NP + prep + NP (direct objects and prepositional objects are underlined): [Yeah it's really pretty]. <compare the active voice: People falsely accuse the media of a lot of things. provide (NP) for. Finally. But McGaughey bases his prediction on first-hand experience. Gushchin (1934) pointed out many of the weaknesses of these attempts. The EIT was set up last year to help fund university research. hear (NP) about. The adverbials exactly and much are between the verbs and prepositional phrases in these examples: Anca Cehan 6 . However. i. • ask for with Pattern 2: He asked Stan for a job. There are two major structural patterns for prepositional verbs: with a single prepositional object (Pattern 1). I've never even thought about it. • apply to with Pattern 2: They were cosmologists wrestling to apply quantum mechanics to Einstein's general theory of relativity.

and mental processes: • activity verbs: Pity we couldn't go for a romp around a canal. Anca Cehan 7 . <compare: I said something about the house on Frazier Street to John. following the principle of end-weight. when.g.She looked exactly like Kathleen. It is used in two main ways: • to direct the attention of others: Look at that great big tree stuck under the bridge! • to describe actions involving sight: The boys looked at each other tearfully unbelieving. or how. rather than a wh-adverb where.1 Most common prepositional verbs Unlike phrasal verbs. waiting for Lettie's reply. a clause is used as the direct object. However. to report the content of the speech. conversation and fiction use a number of other common prepositional verbs to indicate activities. However. This analysis is supported by the fact that prepositional verbs often have idiomatic meanings that cannot be derived from the meanings of the two parts. In many examples with say to. such lengthy direct objects are in final position: I said to John something about the house on Frazier Street. wh-questions with prepositional verbs are formed using who or what (e. A Conversation and fiction Because of the typical topics and purposes in conversation and fiction. these registers have many common prepositional verbs that are activity. I went to say thank you to Doris. Often. What are your thinking about?).> I keep saying to Michael it's so expensive. unbelievingly. different kinds of prepositional verbs are preferred in each register. prepositional verbs are common in academic writing as well as in conversation and fiction. The communication verb say to (say NP to NP) is also very common in conversation and fiction. communication. <compare: I keep saying it's so expensive to Michael> In addition to these two very frequent prepositional verbs. the verb + preposition can also be considered as a multi-word unit—a single 'prepositional verb'. I never thought much about it. communications. or mental verbs. while also identifying the addressee (the prepositional object): She said something to mom and dad earlier on. He stared at me blankly. The most common prepositional verb is look at. isn't it? Patrice held her breath. This prepositional verb is used to report the content of speech (the direct object). The two-word units can often be replaced by a single transitive verb with a similar meaning: thought about it → considered it asked for permission → requested permission stand for it → tolerate it Also. 3.

or simple occurrence. The most common of these is use NP in. • existence verb: It will depend on the purpose of. the Message Type can be derived from its internal structure. the writing. specify relations among entities rather than describing actions: • causative verbs: Further experimentation might lead to the identification of other difficulty factors. • mental verbs: What did they think of the brochure then? I was thinking about the playgroup downstairs.• communication verbs: Just talk to her. Academic prose also commonly uses prepositional verbs that express causation. Other common prepositional verbs used in academic prose include the following: • activity verbs: For example. the above examples avoid mentioning the people who derive. Thus. These verbs. The preference for passive voice with prepositional verbs reflects this general focus. Since when does nobody listen to you? Academic prose also uses several common prepositional verbs that mark physical activities and mental states. The method outlined could now be applied to a selected number of points along the blade length. apply. use. by using the passive. All members of the specified Role Class are considered as possible senders of the received message. and audience for. with less concern for the people who are performing actions. • mental verbs: This induced mustiness is known as Sierra rice. They are often used in the passive voice. academic prose focuses on the relations among inanimate entities. In general. know. The electron may be regarded as a tiny mass carrying a negative charge. regard. controlled tone. these are mostly verbs that take the double object pattern (Pattern 2). I was talking about the old sort of diesel multiple unit. and its passive counterpart (be used in ): We will continue to use Table 4 in our economic analysis. He spoke to Paul in a bitter. or consider. Another type of football was used in the second century in China to celebrate the emperor's birthday. Similarly other parts of the body may be used as bases to start from. too. Replacing the nonsense stems by English stems would have resulted in a grammatically correct sequence. Anca Cehan 8 . existence. However.

common phrasal-prepositional verbs are used for a limited range of meanings. The most frequent phrasal-prepositional verb is get out of . This type of verb is similar to a prepositional verb. In addition. Who put you up to this? Phrasal-prepositional verbs function as a semantic unit and can sometimes be replaced by a single transitive lexical verb with similar meaning. Most are activity verbs. The panel will be asked to come up with the best all-time team on earth. Here are some more examples. For example: Stop yakking and get on with it! He said he would get back to me. two phrasal-prepositional verbs with activity meanings are relatively common: get back to and come up with: It's going to take time for you to get back to full strength. with the complement of the preposition underlined: Perhaps I can get out of it without having to tell her anything.4 Phrasal-prepositional verbs The third major type of multi-word verb shares characteristics of both phrasal and prepositional verbs. and the preposition to: I'm looking forward to the weekend. For example: put up with such treatment → tolerate such treatment get out of it → avoid it come up with a proposal → make a proposal 1 Most common phrasal-prepositional verbs Like phrasal verbs. In news. 2 We have to get out of here. A few phrasal-prepositional verbs can take two objects: I could hand him over to Sadiq. phrasal-prepositional verbs are more frequent in conversation and fiction than in expository writing. For example. as the complement of the preposition (the weekend) functions as the prepositional object of the verb (looking forward to). Often it is imperative (1) or declarative (2): 1 Just get out of my way. the mental verb look forward to is relatively common in fiction and news: She had been looking forward to this moment. However. look forward to has the lexical verb look. Burns went up to the soldiers and started talking. I would still end up with a lot of money. look forward to typically occurs in direct (1) or reported speech (2): Anca Cehan 9 . Phrasal-prepositional verbs consist of a lexical verb combined with both an adverbial particle and a preposition. Several other phrasal-prepositional verbs are relatively common with activity meanings. the adverbial particle forward. In the case of news.

1 We are looking forward to the game. o Phrasal verbs are especially frequent in conversation and fiction. He was 'very reluctant' to let him go. verb + verb combinations. 2 He said he was looking forward to the results of the inquiry. In many cases. o A few phrasal verbs are especially common in academic prose (e. Do you want me to do your hair? Yes. A Verb + prepositional phrase combinations Many verb + prepositional phrase combinations are idiomatic. C Verb + noun phrase combinations There are a few verbs—such as take. Let's have a look at this. Anca Cehan 10 . They can have one or two objects. o Prepositional verbs are common in all registers.g. and phrasal-prepositional verbs. make. I'll take care of it. Conclusions • There are three major types of multi-word verb: phrasal verbs. <compare: remember> The triumph came as a surprise to many. Such combinations function semantically as a unit that can often be replaced by a single lexical verb. The most common verbs express physical activities (e. o Multi-word combinations can also be free combinations. come on. prepositional verbs. and do—that can be used for many meanings. verbs are also used in relatively fixed or idiomatic multi-word constructions: verb + prepositional phrase combinations. <compare: surprised> You have to take into account where the younger shoots are dominant.g. get up. and verb + noun phrase combinations. they can be intransitive or transitive. as in the following sentences: I also have to bear in mind the interests of my wife and family. have. carry out). For example: But you know how you make fun of me sometimes. such as make do (with) and let NP go/be: Patients had to make do with quiche or ham salad. the combination also includes a following preposition. pick up). • Phrasal verbs consist of a verb + adverbial particle. • Prepositional verbs consist of a verb + preposition. I think it is time to let it be. These verbs can combine with noun phrases to form idiomatic verbal expressions. <compare: consider> B Verb + verb combinations A second idiomatic category involves verb + verb combinations. Other multi-word verb constructions In addition to the three types of multi-word verbs discussed above.

o There are also other kinds of multi-word verb constructions that occur with idiomatic meanings (e. What does the verb ‘come on’ express in the sentence: There’s a storm coming on? 18. we’d better go. Longman Celce-Murcia M. 3. give an example of copular phrasal verb. bear in mind. 19... Is particle movement possible with prepositional verbs? If so. What does the verb ‘go on’ express in the sentence: Go on with your work? 20. They have causative or existence meanings. R. (1999) The Grammar Book. 10. 9. give examples of verbs for each class. In a sentence of your own. (1972) A Grammar of Contemporary English. • Phrasal-prepositional verbs consist of a verb + particle + preposition. Nelson Quirk. (1989) An A – Z of English Grammar and Usage. Svartvik J. What does the verb ‘come on’ express in the sentence: Come on. et al. make do and take time). What is a phrasal-prepositional verb? Explain and give an example in a sentence of your own. Analyse ‘shut up’ in the sentence: Shut up you fool. go for). Longman Huddleston R. get on with).. Routledge Greenbaum S.. be based on.. What is a phrasal verb? Explain and give an example in a sentence of your own. In a sentence of your own. What classes do multi-word verbs fall into? In sentences of your own. What is a prepositional verb? Explain and give an example in a sentence of your own. o Passive voice prepositional verbs are especially common in academic prose (e. be associated with). Greenbaum S. Quirk R.g. 5.. CUP Leech G. A University Course..g. 8.g. Longman Downing A (2006) English Grammar. Cehan A. do it.. 14. 4. Apply the wh-question formation test to a sentence with a multi-word verb and decide what kind of verb it is. phrasal-prepositional verbs are especially frequent in conversation and fiction. Polirom Exam questions: 1. Analyse ‘look back’ in the sentence: He was afraid to look back. What does the verb ‘go on’ express in the sentence: There’s a party going on next door. What does the verb ‘come on’ express in the sentence: Come on.. (1998) A Dictionary of English Grammar. 15. (1990) A Student’s Grammar of the English Language. give an example of transitive phrasal verb. give an example of intransitive phrasal verb. What criteria are useful in distinguishing among the types of multi-word combinations? 6. I’m listening? Anca Cehan 11 . What is the multi-word verb ‘fit in’ in the following examples: a) They do not fit in and b) The parcel is too big to fit in the bag? 12. give an example of your own. 17. In a sentence of your own. 2. 11. o Like phrasal verbs. Pullum G. What does the verb ‘go on’ express in the sentence: Go on. Conrad S. Bibliography: Biber D. Heinle and Heinle Vereş G. The most common verbs express physical activity (e. Larsen-Freeman D. (2002) Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English. 16. What is ‘particle movement’? Illustrate particle movement in a sentence of your own. get out of. (2002) The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.o Prepositional verbs with activity and communication meanings are especially common in conversation (e. Leech G.. look at. 13. 7. Leech G..g. Andriescu I.

25. 23. In a sentence of your own. Use the phrasal verb ‘apply to’ in both an intransitive and a transitive pattern. Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: Come and have a look. 37. Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: Take good care of it! Anca Cehan 12 . Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: Let him be. 22. What is the pattern of the sentence: It reminded us of Christmas. Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: We’ll have to make do with the old Ford. Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: The result came as a surprise. 27. illustrate the use of ‘turn out’ as a copular phrasal verb. What is the pattern of the sentence: It looks like a boat. 24. 35. 31. Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: Don’t let go the handle! 34. 26. Use the phrasal verb ‘know about’ in both an intransitive and a transitive pattern. Use the phrasal verb ‘ask for’ in both an intransitive and a transitive pattern. Use the phrasal verb ‘connect with’ in both an intransitive and a transitive pattern.21. Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: Let me know when you’ve finished. Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: They made believe they were princes and princesses. 32. Analyse the multi-word verb construction in the following sentence: You need to take into account the previous scores. 33. 29. Use the phrasal verb ‘provide for’ in both an intransitive and a transitive pattern. 28. 30. 36.

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